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At the MarginsDiscourses of Development, Democracy, and Regionalism in Orissa$
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Jayanta Sengupta

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198099154

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198099154.001.0001

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Congress in the Ascendant?

Congress in the Ascendant?

The Peasant Question and ‘Popular’ Politics, 1920–47

(p.169) Chapter Four Congress in the Ascendant?
At the Margins

Jayanta Sengupta

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies the organization of Congress politics in Orissa during the Gandhian movements of the 1920–40s. It argues that these movements fed upon mainly local social and economic issues, and that Oriya nationalism had a limited popular appeal in the local-level political context. Through an analysis of the reasons for Congress’ success in peasant mobilization as well as in the elections of 1937, and its track record of governance during 1937–9 and also in the aftermath of World War II this chapter shows how the Congress achieved a broad measure of popular support in these decades by opposing the rentier interest that had championed Oriya nationalism. It also challenges the picture of an unqualified Congress ascendancy and critiques the record of the party’s peasant populism by showing how the class interests of Orissa’s Congressmen compromised their anti-landlord stance at crucial moments, and how the experience of governance bred factionalism within Congress itself.

Keywords:   Congress, Gandhi, peasants, landlords, popular politics, factionalism, governance, satyagraha, Non-Cooperation, Civil Disobedience

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